Oakland Starting Smart and Strong’s Policy & Advocacy work seeks to undo the systemic racism embedded in the field of early care and education through greater support for this workforce -- which is composed primarily of women of color -- and through making child care more accessible for each and every family. With child care funds from the American Rescue Plan coming soon -- and with the possibility of unprecedented support for early care and education through the American Families Plan -- OSSS is laying the groundwork now to ensure that families and child care professionals most impacted by the pandemic have a seat at the table in reimagining early childhood systems that work for all. Here’s what we’re weighing in on.
Family child care providers building community power
Family Child Care providers have served a critical role as educators and community leaders during the pandemic, remaining open to provide care for the children of essential workers and working families. The Oakland Family Child Care (FCC) Policy Program is making sure these providers’ voices are heard in policy and budget conversations. This program’s Planning Committee is led by a diverse group of FCC providers and parent advocates, who are supported by BANANAS, First 5 Alameda County, and OSSS.
Since February 2021, committee members have been meeting regularly to discuss the impact of COVID19 on their livelihoods and the families they serve, identify advocacy priorities, and learn about state and federal policies that impact family child care. The Planning Committee organized its first Community Conversation on Advocacy for Oakland/Alameda County providers, which featured a panel discussion where providers talked about what advocacy means to them, community building through Valley Family Child Care and Alameda Professional Child Care Associations, and labor organizing through Child Care Providers United. Check out this FCC policy and data information sheet in Chinese, English, and Spanish.
To stay up to date on upcoming Community Conversations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Budget Advocacy for Oakland’s Mixed Delivery Early Childhood System
It’s state budget and legislative season -- and California is in the midst of plans for recovery from the pandemic. As always, there are a lot of moving parts, but what stays constant for OSSS is our advocacy for a budget grounded in racial and economic justice that supports working families and their children, fairly compensates educators who are critical for our state’s economy, and centers the Oakland communities who have been most impacted by the pandemic.
Addressing Gov. Newsom’s early childhood proposals in this year’s state budget, OSSS sent a Budget Letter along with a One-Page Overview to our local legislators: Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Senator Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks. OSSS partners -- including BANANAS, Oakland Unified School District, First 5 Alameda County, Alameda County Social Services Agency, St. Vincent’s Day Home, Lotus Bloom Family Resource Center, Hellman Foundation, and providers on the Oakland FCC Policy Program Planning Committee from Blessed Beginnings Daycare and Shruti’s Family Daycare -- also recently met with the offices of Rob Bonta and Nancy Skinner.
In these meetings, we emphasized that child care providers are skilled educators who keep the economy running and that families need a variety of child care options and settings. We discussed the importance of maintaining what’s known as a “mixed-delivery system,” which includes the full range of private and public early care and education programs and settings, ranging from family child care homes, friend/family/neighbor caregivers, child care centers, public early education through Head Start and school districts, and neighborhood family resource centers. Because children’s and families’ needs vary -- based on work schedules, culture and language, developmental stage, and more -- a one-size-fits-all approach will not fit all families.
With proposals to expand Transitional Kindergarten likely to move forward after the May Revise to the budget on May 14, we’ll keep an eye on implementation and continue to work with our partners to elevate parent and provider priorities.
Click here to sign up for the CAPPA Monday Morning Update to track budget and legislative news. First 5 Alameda and Child Care Law Center are additional resources for policy and advocacy updates.
Want to learn more, or join our advocacy efforts? Contact Trisha Barua, OSSS Policy Analyst, at email@example.com.